Samode Haveli, Jaipur, India

LOCATION: On the eastern outskirts of Jaipur, the largest city in the Indian state of Rajasthan and home to historic highlights such as the City Palace, Amber Fort and the Palace of the Winds. It’s easy to see that this was India’s first planned city – streets are wide and airy, and it lacks the higgledy-piggledy feel of places that grow organically – but visitors might be surprised to find out the ‘Pink City’ isn’t really pink after all: it was just painted that colour to mark the 1876 visit of the then-Prince of Wales. That fact doesn’t make the magnificent city any less impressive though.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Few hotels can boast an entrance fit for an elephant, but the ridged stone ramp at the gates of Samode Haveli is just one sign that this is no ordinary property. The ramp is, in fact, a relatively new addition, tagged on in the 1940s for a traditional Rajasthani wedding, but it somehow seems in keeping with the rest of this 175-year-old former manor house.

THE FACTS: The cool, open courtyard is a sublime spot for lunch or afternoon tea, but the property really comes alive when you venture inside its 39 rooms and suites. Each boasts rich architectural detail and intricate design, but with a traditional feel that reminds you you’re in the land of the Maharajahs, and not just any old identikit hotel room (provided you look away from the televisions and DVD players, that is). There’s no need to compromise on comfort though, with a large swimming pool and spa on hand.

A GOOD BASE FOR: Taking time out of a busy tour of India to soak up its rich culture and vibrant atmosphere. If clients are keen to incorporate an extra day or two to chill out on a tour of Rajasthan, this is the place to do it – though it’s not far from the city if they fancy fitting in a bit of sightseeing too.

WOW: There is no bigger ‘wow’ factor than the mind-blowing Sheesh Mahal suites (named after the Palace of Mirrors in the nearby Amber Fort) which are ornate beyond belief and prove the region’s reputation as the Land of Many Colours is well-deserved. They’re not the best bet for your taller clients (I’m 5ft 6in and could only just stand up straight in some parts of the room), but I defy anyone to walk in there and not be left open-mouthed in amazement.

HOW MUCH: From £186 plus 17.42% tax, including breakfast, for a deluxe suite in high season.

samode.com

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